#Sportsbiz Recap – September 11, 2016

Battle at Bristol’s unique nature made for success for all who attended by George Schroeder


  • Tennessee beat Virginia Tech 45-24, overcoming an early 14-0 deficit and thrilling the sea of orange that made up perhaps 70% of the crowd of 156,990, a record for a college football game (shattering the previous high of 115,109 for Notre Dame at Michigan in 2013).
  • In Tennessee and Virginia Tech, the organizers had the perfect pairing: two passionate fan bases, two schools within easy driving distance of (and nearly equidistant from) Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • Maybe even at Bristol. But if college football at a race track is not a one-off, will just being there be good enough?

The neutral field non-conference games have become more common as it gives Power 5 schools a guaranteed payout to play in the game in a unique atmosphere. Teams in the past have used the non-conference portion of the schedule to host additional home games, although it is tough to challenge tough competition to come for a true road game due to the financial guarantee required, the importance of winning the game for playoff consideration and the inevitable need to ‘return’ the home game in a future season. These one-off neutral site games have guaranteed both teams a substantial payout and often include an experience that provides more of a championship or bowl game atmosphere, but often with more on the line for their fanbases. The Battle at Bristol was a perfect storm in terms of proximity to the school’s, historic nature of the game due to a long break in the series and both teams from a Power 5 conference with something to lose. Another game will be hosted at Bristol next weekend, for a Group of 5 matchup that will not be met with nearly as much fanfare nor the TV coverage provided by ABC.

Battle at Bristol: ‘Colossus TV’ video board to also be used at Final Four by Janie Harris


  • Each of Colossus’ screens measure 29.5 feet tall by 62.9 feet wide. The display weighs in at over 700 tons. 18 million pixels make up the entire system, and the pixels are grouped tighter than the screen displays in Times Square in New York, which means the screens are 23 times brighter and 25 percent sharper than the average HDTV.
  • Over 100 tons of cabling suspend Colossus, and the suspension cables are larger than some of the cables supporting the Golden Gate Bridge with a length that could circle Bristol’s track twice.
  • Eventually, the massive four-sided video board will make a stop in Phoenix, Arizona to be used during the Final Four games.

The center hung video board that was present for the Battle at Bristol is an absolute marvel. The site lines may have been less than optimal for many in attendance which is a common theme at many of these events that are hosted in oversized venues (ie football at NASCAR track or basketball at a football stadium). The display was manufactured by Panasonic and has a pixel pitch of 6mm which is really incredible for a display of that size. The display also includes a speaker system that will allow the audio to be no farther than 90 feet from speaker to ear, which is another impressive feat. The quality of the system’s speakers means there will be less than 3 decibels of difference among any seat in the grandstands.

John Malone’s Liberty Media to Buy Formula One by Simon Clark


  • John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. said it agreed to acquire Formula One in a cash-and-stock deal that values the auto-racing franchise at $4.4 billion.
  • CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private-equity firm, bought majority control of Formula One in 2006.
  • Companies backed by Mr. Malone—including cable operator Liberty Global PLC and TV channel-owner Discovery Communications Inc.—have been aggressive in expanding overseas, especially in Europe, to chase growth outside the maturing U.S. market.
  • Formula One Group will own the racing business. Liberty Media shareholders will have a 35% ownership interest, while existing owners including CVC will have the remaining 65% interest.

The acquisition of Formula One will not take place until the first quarter of 2017 at the earliest. Formula One has seen it’s viewership fall in recent years and has given the false pretense that the sport is in trouble. The issues can mainly be attributed to the structure and leadership of the organization. The viewership numbers were reportedly down due to numerous new TV-deals that took the F1 product from over-the-air TV to a paid, usually sports specific, channel. The struggles of Formula One were covered well by NBC Sports. The sport has grown popularity in the United States, and will look to regain international prowess with the support of Liberty Media whom has recently made a number of acquisitions in the European market.

Turner wants to build its own streaming service for channels like CNN and TNT by Peter Kafka


  • Turner wants to sell streaming subscriptions to its channels, including TNT, CNN and Cartoon Planet, directly to consumers.
  • “I believe it’s imperative that we put the company on a course, to be in a position, to offer an end-to-end solution, direct to consumer,” he told Recode in a wide-ranging interview this month.
  • We have to go from being a wholesale, linear cable TV company to being a consumer-focused, consumer-centric company.
  • We are building the capabilities to move to becoming capable of offering VOD — not only domestically, but globally — and then building out the things that you need to be able to do to be an end-to-end provider, including customer relationships, billing and so on.

Fantastic Q&A with Turner CEO John Martin discussing how Turner needs to get away from the traditional TV ecosystem and grow their revenue streams in order to be self-sustainable in the long-term. Developing a direct-to-consumer backbone that is able to support all of the Turner owned content is a step in that direction, while their commitment to TBS/TNT and producing original content is another. This article continues on to discuss much more than just sports.



Published by Barney Carleton

Senior Manager, Media Operations & Technology at the NBA. St. John's University BS '13, MBA '15

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